2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser Road Test Review

29 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser Road Test Review

Overall Rating


Price: $44,990 (plus on-road costs)

Engine: 4.0 litre petrol V6

Outputs: 200kW/380Nm

Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Official fuel efficiency: 11.4 l/100km

You could hardly accuse it of conventional good looks – Toyota#39;s new FJ Cruiser. No, rugged maybe, and stylised, fresh, youthful. certainly.

It is something of a surprise from conservative Toyota, and not only for its retro-inspired styling. Both on road, and off it, the FJ Cruiser is better than we expected.

Quality: The fit and finish inside, and the feel of tactile surfaces and materials is typically Toyota. That means practical, hard-wearing, and designed with utility in mind. Floor mats are rubber for easy cleaning. you can hose it out.

There are painted inserts in the door panels and a painted centre stack, a bit like the original FJ40, and a flat dash that looks ok (in a Leggo-land kind of way).

The glove box however, instead of being in the sensible spot – the flat area in front of the passenger – is nearly inaccessible, and drops onto the shins if you have to open it.

Comfort: Seating and driving comfort is good; the fabric is #39;water repellent#39; and ventilated (so that it #39;breathes#39;) and the front seats are well shaped.

Rear seats are higher, theatre style, giving a better view of the road ahead for kids in the back. They#39;ll need it, the rear seats tuck in behind the thick C-pillar. Leg and headroom is good, but it#39;s like sitting in a cave looking out.

A good touch is grab-handles on the backs of the front seats. The rear-mounted rear doors open out at right angles to provide good access to the rear, even for adults (but you might struggle to get your 80-year-old Gran in there).

Equipment: Standard equipment includes rear fog-lamps, privacy glass, rear parking sensors, cruise control, air-conditioning, steering-mounted audio controls, a multi-information display, central locking, eight-speaker audio with CD stacker, USB, iPod, Bluetooth and aux connectivity – nothing lacking there.

Storage: Back seats laid flat, and it’s a cavern in there; enough room for a mountain bike and a lot of camp clobber. Seats up: still wide, deep and high, it can swallow 990 litres of family gear. Towing capacity is 2200kg (braked).

Driveability: On road and off, the FJ Cruiser drives exceptionally well.

Basically it#39;s a Prado in a shorter, lighter skin. It sits on bigger 17-inch rims, and doesn#39;t have all the off-road electronic aids of the Prado, but it shares the platform, suspension, 200kW 4.0-litre V6 and well-tested (and very good) five-speed auto with low range transfer case.

A downside is the fuel consumption: an average of 11.4 l/100k (95 octane minimum) will have city drivers at the bowser more often than they’d like – and there is no diesel in prospect.

Refinement: Those bigger wheels, combined with Australian re-engineered compliant suspension, give the FJ a very comfortable and refined feel on road; and, off-road, it simply swallows heavy bumps.

On tarmac the ride is supple, and road roar – even on coarse surfaces – is barely evident. Wind noise is a different matter: there is quite a bit of it around the upright screen, thick A-pillars and triple wipers.

Suspension: Down below is a very well-sorted all-coil suspension, with high-mounted double-wishbones up front and a five-link system at the rear. Allowing long travel and good wheel articulation, it puts the FJ Cruiser at the top of its class for versatility.

Off-road: Two days through the Flinders Rangers in SA gave us a good look at the FJ Cruiser’s off-road credentials. Over mixed trails with some deep dry-bed crossings and steep, loose and deeply-rutted grades, the FJ made light work of it.

Its low range transfer case, rear diff-lock and switchable off-road traction control, A-trac (which diverts drive to wheels with traction), give it real capability in the rough.

Approach and departure angles are among the best in class: 36-degree approach, 31-degree departure and 29-degree ramp-over. Combined with a high stance, tight turning circle, good wheel articulation and robust underbody protection, the FJ Cruiser can get in and out of some very marginal off-road situations without bashing the undersides about.

Torque and engine-braking from the 4.0-litre V6 is strong and well-harnessed by the dual-range five-speed box. And the body is rigid: we hit a washout at speed and couldn’t bash a creak out of it. The only debit was some occasional #39;rack rattle#39; on smaller corrugations.

ANCAP: (Not yet tested)

Safety Features: There are six airbags, active front-seat head restraints, vehicle stability control, switchable active traction control (A-Trac), anti-skid brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, active front-seat head restraints and reversing camera with a mirror-mounted display.


Warranty: The warranty period for all new Toyota vehicles is 3 years or 100,000 kilometres, whichever comes first.

Servicing Costs: Service intervals are set for every 10,000km/6 months, with the first six logbook services capped at $210.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 3.8i ($46,000) – Retro charm and good off road. What’s more, there’s a diesel option; but it’s coarser than the FJ and not as well kitted. (see Wrangler reviews )

Mitsubishi Challenger LS Wagon 2.5DT ($49,390) – Diesel, very capable off-road, comfortable and well-finished. But lacking personality and let down by drab styling. (see Challenger reviews )

Note: prices are Manufacturer#39;s List Price and do not include dealer-delivery or on-road costs.


Toyota has hatched a very good one with its new FJ Cruiser. This is one competent and appealing car.

Four-by-four of the year? Certainly the most interesting release of the past twelve months. It’s a pity there is no diesel.

While the petrol V6 is a very good one, that 11.4 l/100k average will likely be hard to duplicate in the real world – especially on grid-locked urban roads.

If the $45k-plus price isn#39;t too much of a hurdle, this is a car we#39;d recommend in a flash. It’s one for the top of the list.

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